French Prime Minister shows support for ban on so-called 'burkinis'


The French Prime Minister appears to have thrown his weight behind the ban on so-called 'burkinis' on the beach at Cannes.

The exclusive resort on the French Riviera took the step of banning the full body swim suits.

The ban comes a decade ofter full face veils were banned in France as a result of the country's strict secularist system which disallows much religious expression in the public square.

The Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has now spoken out for the first time since the local ban on burkinis. The garments are, "not compatible with the values of the French Republic," he said, "in the face of provocation, the nation must defend itself."

France has been rocked by a series of terror attacks over the last 18 months and is in the midst of an urgent national debate over how to react.

The murder of a priest while saying Mass in Normandy last month has raised the temperature even further.

Several smaller towns have now followed Cannes in banning the burkini, and although no national ban is proposed at the moment, the Prime Minister's seeming endorsement of the policy is a step in that direction.

The debate of freedom of expression in the face of such bans will carry on – but there is no sign of an imminent repeal of the existing local legislation.